First Appearances: ‘Detective Comics #359’ Review (First Appearance of Batgirl)

Batman comics feel as though they’ve always flip flopped between an incredibly bleak existence and a ham-fisted, over-the-top goof-athon. I enjoy both stretches for the caped crusader, though I’ll openly admit that the darker side of Batman’s existence has always intrigued me more than any other character during any period of time. But that doesn’t mean the light-hearted books stink, or underwhelm. They’ve got a charm all their own, and that’s evident in Detective Comics #359, the very book that introduced the Batgirl to the world of the comic book fan.

“The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl” opens with a few thoughts from Batman that let us know he has no official affiliation (yet) with “Batgirl” – the Batman inspired female fighting machine who dons nearly identical duds to the legendary dark knight. We also get a look at Barbara Gordon, the super-hot geek girl who plans to attend a costume ball for the police force, a tradition given her father, Commissioner Gordon. But is there more to this particular getup than we’re initially expected to believe?

Only time will tell.

Killer Moth looks to be the focal villain of the issue, which initially sees Moth and a gang of his tag-alongs attempt to rob Bruce Wayne and lift his wheels for themselves. That plan goes south when Batgirl pops up to thwart the criminals. But these crooks – especially Killer Moth – manage to turn the tide on Batgirl. Don’t sweat it though, “Batman” shows up (Bruce changes into his bat-gear under shadow of nearby foliage) and stomps a mud-hole in the rears of these cheap baddies.

Batman and Batgirl are face to face, but oddly enough not much comes of their first full-costume encounter. On the plus side of things we do get solid confirmation that Barbara is most certainly Batgirl.

Robin soon enters the fold with all sorts of “holy rackets!” and “holy interference.” It’s all silly, soft stuff, but it doesn’t bother much, especially not when coming from Robin, who seems destined to utter absurd sayings until eternity passes.

Expect the final encounter between Batman and Killer Moth to produce the kind of results you foresee, and also keep an eye on Batgirl’s development as a crime-fighter and her suddenly surging relationship with Batman, who – for the record – doesn’t seem exactly sure of how to handle this new spitfire.

Again, go into this read knowing that this isn’t exactly Dark Knight Batman here, but rather a character more in line with the hokey gent that landed on the small screens in ’66. But also know that Batgirl’s introduction is awesome and out of the ordinary. All too often we see full comics drag out only to uncork a major reveal/tease on the final page; this book showcases the young heroine in action and in costume on a number of occasions. It’s all pretty gratifying, and it justifies the cost of a digital purchase, no doubt!

Rating: 3.5/5


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